The First Account of the Flood

Jean Bottéro

in Everyday Life in Ancient Mesopotamia

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print July 2001 | ISBN: 9780748613878
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748653584 | DOI:
The First Account of the Flood

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On December 1872, George Smith, one of the first to undertake the deciphering and listing of the thousands of cuneiform tablets from Assurbanipal's library discovered at Nineveh, announced that he had found a narrative which was too exactly parallel to the one in the Bible for the coincidence to be attributable to mere chance. This account, in 200 lines, formed the ‘XIth Canto’ of the famous Epic of Gilgamesh. Gilgamesh, in search of immortality, having come to the very end of the world to question the hero of the Flood, learns from his lips how the cataclysm had come about in earlier times. Although the Epic of Gilgamesh has a very long literary history, the account of the Flood did not immediately form part of it, but was inserted later, having been plucked from another literary piece where it originally belonged: the Poem of the Supersage.

Keywords: George Smith; cuneiform tablets; Assurbanipal; Nineveh; Bible; Gilgamesh; immortality; Flood; Poem; Supersage

Chapter.  5214 words. 

Subjects: Classical History

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